Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mystery Women....

Did you ever notice how an ordinary day can become the extraordinary simply because someone unexpected has walked through?

I've had a couple of these days, just since being home!

Imagine if you will, my returning from weeks on the road to a HUGE pile of mail, including some boxes.....I could tell ONE of the boxes contained the long awaited book I'd been patiently anticipating. "An Echo in the Bone" By Diana Gabaldon was in the first box.

In the second box? It was LARGE, and I couldn't for the life of me imagine what it was. I opened it up, and INSTANTLY was thrown back to the early 1990s as I unwrapped some shop samples for some stuffed dolls that I had designed close to 17 years ago. These were some designs that were picked up by the Butterick Pattern Co back then, and I had specially made the samples for a shop owner in my town. We moved away and I forgot about them. She closed her shop, they went into storage....and evidently from the letter she sent, they had unearthed themselves as she cleared out storage, and she decided to send them back to me! I look at these very dated 1990s VIP prints and remember them fondly. Those were fun days, two small children under foot, designing my heart out, playing with fabric then, as I am now.

Instead of turning my nose up at these old cutesy fabrics, I am thinking back to where I was in my life then, awed at the memories these dolls hold, going back and forth in my memory to the ages of my sons at the time, the places we lived, what we looked like, and the young men they have become since. It can't possibly be that these dolls are THAT old, can it? But they are. And here I am...many years older, and not so wiser. :c)

I even know for a fact, that if I were to dig in my boxes of leader/ender squares...I might just find some of these scraps still remaining, bringing memories with them every time I sew them into something.

Carleen, in Idaho, thanks for sending the memories back to me...you are Mystery Woman #1 in this story!

Mystery Woman #2: Susan Davidson!!

The third box I opened yesterday contained this lovely old cutter quilt! It's a periwinkle star pattern, made probably in the 1930's-1940's era. You can tell by the prints in the stars themselves, and the orange fabric is that lovely melon color, not a cheddar of 19th century quilts. It is all hand pieced and hand quilted, and has been loved to shreds. I love utility quilts. I think I've written about that many times. I'd much rather adopt a well loved falling apart quilt that has had a life, and therefore a multitude of memories lived with it, than any pristine thing that has been put away and never used or washed. Susan sent this one to me completely out of the blue! I am gobsmacked, to say the least...She said it's just been living in a closet at her house, not getting the attention or appreciation it deserves. She also knows I love orange. Susan, thank you so MUCH for this little lovely! I'm going to display it as is, in all its orange glory!

Mystery Woman #3?

Dear Martina, I don't even know your last name! I was coming out of the post office at Hane's Mall running to my car in the rain, and there you were...in your dress slacks and high heeled shoes, looking frustrated! You couldn't find your car...you were lost and at your wit's end!

I beckoned you into my car, and told you that I would help drive you around to find your car. (I told you I was NOT an Axe Murderer!) I know the mall entrances all look the same, and we drove around and laughed and laughed, even as strangers, about how our memories go south with gravity the same way our body parts do into our late 40s!

It took a bit of talking and figuring, but we finally decided to go to the road and drive back IN to the mall area so you could remember which entrance you parked at. That did the trick and in a few minutes you were back at your car with a smile on your face, and on your way back to your office. I never got your last name.

You wanted to thank me, but I need to thank YOU for getting me out of my blue funk today. Some people pass through our lives quickly, forever leaving their footprints on our hearts. I'll never forget your smile of relief when we found your car, still laughing. I'm sure you will have fun repeating this story to others too.

Mystery Woman #4:
You would be the woman who pieced this lovely top with fabrics going from 1910 all the way through the 1930s. I found this top in a lovely little mall off the beaten path in West Virginia on my way back home from Michigan. I wonder about who you were and what your life was like. I wonder who's clothes these scraps came from, because there are many different ones, both masculine and feminine in this quilt. You'd been sewing for decades, and as I think about your variety, I think of the variety that I have in my scraps too, some dating back into the 1970s and 1980s.....my life in fabric.

I wonder why this quilt never got to the quilting or tying stage. It is machine pieced, and I love the contradiction between the black mourning prints, and the bright splashy polka-dots. Were these representative of different times in your own life? I love log cabin quilts, and this Straight Furrows setting is a favorite of mine. I wonder if you made and played with other log cabin layouts too. You probably never gave a second thought to where this top might end up while you were making it, and it makes me wonder about MY OWN UFOs. Geeesh, I hope they don't end up in an antique mall somewhere! But if they do...maybe I will become someone else's Mystery Woman....

As you can SEE....Oscar was quite perturbed that I was disturbing his nap to take pictures!


  1. Love the log cabin. I would have brought that one home also. I see some tiny triangles peeking out from under the cat also.

  2. ... and it all makes life worth living & a bit of fun, too.
    Have a wonderful autumn day. TTFN ~Marydon

  3. Youare such a great writer and to have so many mystery women all at once. the quilts are beautiful and I have often wished that quilts could talk. Oh the stories they would tell.

  4. Thank you for reminding us about the magic moments in our lives. What a gift they are!!

  5. In this day and age it is a state of grace for you to help a woman who was wearing high heels and looking for her car in the rain. Not many people would give of themselves in time and humor. Our lives are so fast paced and we tend to be singleminded. Got to get our chores and running done. No time for the little person who could be helped with one act of kindness.
    Personally I look for a random act of kindness every time I go out. I always get paid back...either by feeling good or anothre's kind gesture. Last week I helped a very PG lady with a cart full of groceries holding another toddler and with two others trying to get their jackets on outside a store. SHe did not have enough hands. It was windy and raining. I set my purse down at my feet and bent over to help the little ones with the sleeves. Her face was so wonderful to behold with my offer of help. I did ask her permission first. So sorry that no one can be trusted. I felt so good after that.
    Love your writings....but love you in person more. Have you ever considered doing DVD's????

  6. I just love to read your posts. This one is wonderful. You are very fortunate to know such wonderful women and to be one yourself.

  7. Love your post Bonnie! And LOVE that log cabin quilt. I've been cleaning up in the sewing room and adding lots of strips to my drawers..makes me want to work on a scrappy lob cabin that I started awhile back...anything goes. I'll probably set it with the fields and furrows setting as I love that one too!

  8. I RECOGNIZE all those fabrics in the stuffed animals!!! I sewed crafts for craft fairs back in the 80's and early to mid 90's. I think I had the cat pattern and maybe the pig too. I did dozens of a floppy-eared bunny but I don't remember the designer. It was different from the one you show. Oh, those were the days!!! I still come across pieces of those fabrics in my stash as well.

  9. When I read you post this evening I had some of the same thoughts as your other commentors. It is always so uplifting to read your blog, so you are my mystery woman for today. Thanks for being there Bonnie

  10. Just so you know, since the workshop I have taken from you in June, I have been obsessively cutting scraps. So much so, that I am running out of room in my bins and have to go to WalMart and buy bigger so the displaced scrapbooking supplies can again be put back. People are starting to give me their scraps also. I have added since the show because of all the things I made and the tiny bits that were left. I am so inspired to higher levels of creativity from you!!!

  11. What a great story about Martha and finding her car. How sweet you are to take the time to help her. Good Karma that is!

  12. I think God reminds us everyday in small ways to be grateful.
    Does it cost us anything to smile or offer a "hello" even if it doesn't get returned? I have had some great chance encounters all over the world...people walk into our lives for a few hours... like sharing a meal at a museum and never seeing them again but we are richer for the experience...even standing in line having a friendly chat.....hey even here in New York!

    Thanks for sharing
    Happy Sewing

  13. I love, love, love the critters! Thanks for sharing. What a delightful story. Claire

  14. Anonymous5:48 PM EDT

    An enjoyable post! I came to your blog from a link from our guild's blog. It must have been meant to be, because I didn't know Diana Gabldon had another book out! I requested it at our public library, but I am 200 something on the list. It will be awhile until I find out what happens to Jaime, Claire, et. al. I teach middle school, so I've been reading the Twilight books. I've got to know what my kids are reading. It will be good to read an "adult" book again.

  15. Bonnie, you are a gem! So glad that I happened by today and got to read all about your mystery women. Gorgeous quilts! Great post! :o)

  16. Hi,
    Isn't it wonderful how we touch each others' lives. Sometimes only for a minute or two. Wonderful blog....nice way for me to start the day.
    Mary C.

  17. I love this post. Thanks for your love of "vintage" fabrics. People can sometimes be so snobby about fabric. Your perspective on the critters you made so long ago shows that fabric is much more than the threads it is made of...it somehow becomes the fabric of our minds. Much love!

  18. Anonymous5:07 AM EDT

    What a mysteriuos day!
    I recognise that fabrics on those critturs, and rmember the pattern. It was one I looked at, but didn't buy, when I was a new designer of dolls which I was making to sell for some pocket money. I know there are still scraps of those fabrics in the stash too.
    It was great to see your samples, and to know what at least one designer of the nineties is up to now!
    Judy B


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